CEMEX Fairborn Plant Clean Air Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - February 10, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department announced today that Cemex, Inc., one of the largest producers of Portland cement in the United States, has agreed to pay a $1.4 million penalty for Clean Air Act violations at its cement plant in Fairborn, Ohio. In addition to the penalty, Cemex will spend an estimated $2 million on pollution controls that will reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), pollutants that can lead to childhood asthma, acid rain, and smog.

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Overview of Company and Location of Facilities

CEMEX is a global building materials company headquartered in Mexico. CEMEX provides cement and concrete products for construction projects in every sector: industrial, commercial, residential and municipal, with more than 100 aggregate quarries and hundreds of ready-mix concrete plants in the United States.

CEMEX is one of the largest producers of Portland cement, owning and operating 14 Portland cement plants in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The U.S. headquarters is located in Houston.

The CEMEX Fairborn facility is located in Fairborn, Ohio. The Facility operates one pre-heater cement kiln with a capacity of 661,000 tons of cement clinker per year. Emissions are approximately 2,963 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 673 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per year.

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The Complaint alleges that CEMEX constructed or made major modifications at the Fairborn plant resulting in increased emissions of NOx and SO2 without first obtaining a pre-construction permit and installing required pollution control equipment. These actions violate the Clean Air Act (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) provisions, Part C of the Title I, at §§ 7661a-f; and CAA 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492.

In addition, the Complaint alleges that CEMEX violated Title V and the federal and state approved regulations by failing to submit accurate and complete permit applications, which include all applicable requirements (including the relevant PSD requirements and the requirement to apply best available control technology pursuant to PSD).

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires CEMEX to install and continuously operate best available control technology (BACT) level emissions controls to reduce emissions of NOx and SO2.

  • NOx Emission Limitations and Controls

The consent decree requires the installation and continuous operation of a selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) unit to control NOx emissions. While the plant is required to conduct testing in order to set a final NOx limit after the consent decree is entered, CEMEX is required to design the SNCR to obtain and maintain a 30-day rolling average emissions rate of no greater than 1.85 lbs of NOx per ton of clinker produced.

  • SO2 Emission Limitations and Controls

Currently, the Fairborn plant does not utilize an SO2 add-on control device. The consent decree will require the installation and continuous operation of a lime spray absorber on the alkali bypass stack. CEMEX will be required to meet a 30-day rolling average emission rate of no greater than 1.1 lb SO2/ton of clinker.

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Pollutant Reductions

This settlement will achieve the following pollutant reductions:

  • Nitrous Oxides (NOx) 2,300 tons per year
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 288 tons per year

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Health and Environmental Benefits

NOx and SO2 have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

  • Nitrogen Oxides - Nitrogen oxides can cause ground-level ozone, acid rain, particulate matter, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Nitrogen oxides play a major role, with volatile organic chemicals, in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone. Children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are susceptible to adverse effects such as damage to lung tissue and reduction in lung function.
  • Sulfur Dioxide -The major health concerns associated with SO2 derive from its transformation to PM2.5 (particles of air pollution with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less). PM2.5 has been demonstrated to have a number of adverse effects on human health including effects on breathing, respiratory illness, alterations in pulmonary defenses, and aggravation of existing cardiovascular disease. Children, the elderly, and people with asthma, cardiovascular disease or chronic lung disease (such as bronchitis or emphysema) are most susceptible to adverse health effects associated with exposure to PM2.5 SO2 is also a primary contributor to acid deposition (e.g., acid rain), which causes acidification of lakes and streams and can damage trees, crops, historic buildings and statues. In addition, sulfur compounds in the air contribute to visibility impairment in large parts of the country. This is especially noticeable in national parks, national forests and wilderness areas.

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Civil Penalty

CEMEX will pay a total penalty of $1.4 million for violations resolved in the consent decree.

  • $932,400 to the United States
  • $233,800 to the state of Ohio, with $46,760 designated for Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program Fund
  • $233,800 to the Ohio Regional Air Pollution Control Agency

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State and Regional Partners

The consent decree was negotiated with the assistance of the state of Ohio and the Ohio Regional Air Pollution Control Agency.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Apple Chapman
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2242A)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460-0001
(202) 564-5666

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